50 Ways Book

Mike Silverman’s book "How Reliable Is Your Product: 50 Ways to Improve Product Reliability" is loaded here. We have broken the book up into each individual chapter.

Due to copyright laws, we cannot load all 50 chapters at one time so we will periodically change the chapters that are loaded.

If you would like to purchase a hard copy of Mike's book, you can do so at http://www.amazon.com

Modern engineering products, from individual components to large systems, must be designed, developed, and manufactured to be reliable in use. Designs must be robust in relation to the stresses and other factors that could cause damage or deterioration in transport, storage, use, and maintenance. Product development must include testing to ensure that this is achieved and to show up weaknesses for correction. The manufacturing processes must be performed correctly and with the minimum of variation. All of these aspects impact the costs of design, development, manufacture, and use, or, as they are often called, the product's life cycle costs. The challenge of modern competitive engineering is to ensure that life cycle costs are minimized while achieving requirements for performance and time to market. If the market for the product is competitive, improved reliability can generate very strong competitive advantages, as well as cost savings to manufacturers and to users. Today, this message is well understood by most engineering companies that face competitive pressures.

'50 Ways to Improve Product Reliability' is a great collection of ground-rules that are based upon experience. It describes a number of situations and presents practical examples of what engineers should do to be successful in the area of reliability. In a few examples it also indicates what should not be done in order to avoid problems. The book is organized according to the phases of a project and a maturity matrix is presented as a means to measure progress. Many examples show proactive use of reliability tools for hardware and software. All are accompanied by concise case studies showing how to apply tools and handle common situations. It is a must read for all engineers and managers who are involved with corporate-wide reliability improvement efforts."
James McLinn, CRE, Fellow, ASQ

You can measure and manage the reliability growth of any software (or even hardware) development using an appropriate model, of which many exist, some of which are more suitable than others. Perhaps the most suitable for software develoment is the Rayleigh model.

This is referenced from Section 34.2 from the main portion of this book.
This study analyzed HALT data from many different companies from a variety of industries and illustrates the following concepts:

Accelerated Life Test (ALT) - The process of determining the useful life of a product in a short period of time by accelerating the use environment (how the product will be used).

0oC Degrees Centigrade
AFR Annualized Failure Rate or Average Failure Rate
ALT Accelerated Life Testing
ANOVA Analysis of Variance

Reliability is an interesting discipline because there are many techniques you can use to solve problems and create a reliable product. There certainly are guidelines and best practices, but you should determine for yourself the set of techniques that will work within your company. Some of the factors you should consider are the size of your company, company culture, past experiences, background education, marketplace, and customer requirements.

Reliability is no longer a separate activity performed by a distinct group within your organization. Product reliability goals, concerns, and activities are integrated into nearly every function and process of your organization. Senior management's role is to foster an environment where your team keeps reliability and quality goals clearly in mind. Engineering teams should balance project costs, customer maintenance costs, quality, schedule, performance and reliability (and possibly other factors specific to your industry) to achieve optimal product designs. Your organization's structure should encourage all members of your team to apply appropriate reliability methods and principles. The Design for Reliability (DFR) role for the reliability personnel is often finding the cost effective components and design.

Reliability Integration is the process of seamlessly and cohesively integrating reliability techniques together to maximize reliability at the lowest possible cost. What this means is you should think of your reliability program as a set of techniques that are used together rather than just a bunch of individual activities.

When developing a reliability program, you should decide if you are going to staff up, if you are going to seek outside help, or both. Most companies choose both. They use in-house staff for daily tasks, such as going to meetings and working side-by-side with the design team, and they use outside expertise in areas where they either don't have the expertise or sufficient staff to execute the tasks. Here are the top ten reasons (in no particular order of importance) why you may want to bring in a reliability consultant to give your company a boost:

Before you can recommend a reliability program for a product, you should first determine the capability of your current organization. We call this a Reliability Program Assessment.

Benchmarking is the process of determining and comparing reliability-related metrics for a set of specific products in a specific market. The purpose of Benchmarking is to gain a clear understanding of how your product measures up to your competitors' product in your market. Benchmarking is crucial both to a start-up company as well as an established company that is coming out with a new product to ensure that the new product is competitive based on reliability and cost.

A Gap Analysis naturally flows from the Benchmarking Analysis. Once you complete the Benchmarking Analysis, you should then compare the results with your current capabilities, and this becomes the input to the Gap Analysis. The larger the gap, the more effort you will need to put forth to meet your requirements.

What Reliability Metrics will you use to measure that you are meeting your goals? Reliability Metrics provide the measurements and milestones, the "are we there, yet?" feedback that your organization needs to ensure you are on track toward meeting your goals. Without these metrics, you have no way of knowing if you are on track. Once you have established your goals, define the key metrics you can use to monitor your reliability goals.

Once you have stated the overall reliability goal, now it is time to apportion (or allocate) the goal down to the different assemblies within a product. We call this Reliability Apportionment or Reliability Allocation. It is only by stating goals at the assembly level that you can really get started with a design.

Golden Nuggets refers to those few techniques that your organization does well, so well in fact that these techniques become engrained into your culture. The Golden Nuggets become part of your "secret sauce" that give your product and company a competitive advantage in specific areas. Sometimes your organization doesn't know that they do them well or even know that they are doing them at all. It is your responsibility to point out these Golden Nuggets to your organization because you should always reinforce good behavior.

A Reliability Program Plan (RPP) ties together customer requirements, business opportunities, and employee opportunities. For customer requirements, your RPP ensures that you meet the terms of your contract with your customers and that you meet customers' expectations. For business opportunities, a good RPP can help reduce expenses and improve brand perception. For employee opportunities, a good RPP can provide employee direction and empowerment.

How Reliable Is Your Product?